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tonight on "worldfocus" -- >> in india, swine flu has triggered a wave of panic with schools, theaters and shopping malls shutting down. tonight we investigate the health threat there and elsewhere. is the flu fear justified? glimmer of hope. surprising numbers show germany and france have pulled out of recession. could the rest of europe be far behind? and what does that mean for the u.s. economy? as secretary of state clinton meets with the first woman president of liberia, we look at the women's movement in that west african country. a force so strong, it drove a dictator from power. and we continue our look at the impact of climate change on remote lands. traveling to cambodia to meet the monks out to save a forest one tree at a time.
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good evening, i'm martin savidge. we are going to start here tonight with a subject that has a lot of people here and throughout the world increasingly concerned as we heard towards fall that. subject is the h1n1 swine flu virus, which according to the world health organization has killed just under 1,500 people worldwide. right now it's spreading through india with its vast and densely packed population, to use the words of "the new york times." it has been confirmed in 67 american troops at 6 bases in iraq, to cite just a couple of examples. it's a complicated health issue and tonight's lead focus, we thought it would be helpful to
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take a look at the flu pandemic from a world perspective as weigh help you understand the risk as the traditional flu season approaches. just last week in switzerland, officials of the world health organization had news about the timetable for the development of a swine flu vaccine. the organization said a vaccine may be ready by the end of september, but that more testing is needed on the proper dosage. >> what they will try to tell us, they will tell us whether we need one or two dose per person for a vaccination. >> until a vaccine can be made widely available, many countries are focusing on prevention. last week in brazil, thousands of fans attending a soccer game wore masks after being ordered to do so by a judge. the game took place in the southern part of brazil, where most of brazil's swine flu cases had been reported. nearly 200 people have died in that country from the disease. >> translator: we've seen several people die, including
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mothers and babies. it's a sad situation. we will continue to support measures like the one today. >> on saturday in ecuador, the health ministers of ten south american countries met to ensure the fair distribution of the swine flu vaccine. they announced they would work together to buy the vaccine in an effort to prevent being overcharged. >> translator: the latin american governments want to prevent those with a commercial interest of taking advantage of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. the medicine and supplies needed to deal with the pandemic must be available to all. >> also this week in costa rica, swine flu struck what may be its highest profile victim. on tuesday it was announced that the costa rican president and nobel peace prize winner, oscar arias, has fallen ill from the disease. >> translator: after suffering from a headache, sore throat and a fever, was informed he had contracted the h1n1 virus. he is at home, where he has been told to rest until next monday.
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>> arias is expected to make a full recovery, however, the illness has halted his work as a mediator in the political crisis in honduras after that country's president was ousted in a coup in late june. finally in india, in mumbai, officials yesterday ordered all schools and movie theaters closed. with more than 13 million people, mumbai is india's biggest city. yesterday's decision marks the first time that a major city in india closed all of its schools and movie theaters. the move was prompted by a rising number of swine flu cases and deaths. the number of reported cases in india stands at around 1,200. at least 2,100 people are reported to have died. however, with a population of over 1 billion people, the percentage of cases in india is low when compared to countries elsewhere. some have blamed aggressive coverage of the outbreak by the media for creating an atmosphere of alarm. to try to make sense of the global swine flu pandemic, just how dangerous it really is, we've invited back dr. martin blaser to join us tonight.
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he is the past president of the infectious disease society of america and is the chair of the department of medicine at new york university school of medicine. as we just heard, the swine flu is spreading quite rapidly around the world. but the global death count, which right now i believe is at 1,500, remains relatively low. so just how dangerous is the disease? >> i think as you point, it's spreading all over the world. it's been present in more than 150 countries. i would guess there already have been tens of millions of cases of infection. and relatively small number of deaths. but for most of the world lives, it's the summertime and this outbreak isn't over. in fact, it's just beginning. >> but i want to keep in perspective the regular flu, that's what we're going to call it. how many people die? >> in the u.s. it's estimated about 35,000 people a year. >> how many people have died from the swine flu so far? >> so far about 400.
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>> the concern seems to be that's often talked about is this flu, swine flu, could mutate into a deadlier form. how likely is that? >> so far the fact that it's been in millions of people and hasn't mutated is good news. that doesn't mean we're out of the woods but when a virus comes along like this with so much force, where it's spreading all over the world with so many millions of people and not respecting seasonal boundaries the way flu usually does, then have you to worry that there's a lot of force to this virus. >> when you use the word force, i presume what you're referring to is the fact it's a new virus that most people, maybe all of us, had never really been exposed to and thereby we catch it more easily, is that it? we don't have immunity to it? >> yeah. it is a new virus, although it's relative circulated until 1957. so that's why people who are -- who were alive in 1957, people over the age of 50, seem to have some partial immunity.
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but for people born after 1957, which is most of the world's population, there's no pre-existing immunity, and that's one of the reasons it's spreading so rapidly. >> and this propensity to possibly mutate, is it more likely in the swine flu or are the odds the same with the swine flu as with any virus? >> i don't think we know enough to answer that question. people are worried because it's spreadinvely. so if it did mutate into a very severe form, a lot of people would be affected. >> i got it. how are we doing when it comes to a vaccine, and how are we doing on the time scale? >> well, there has been a recognition that a vaccine is necessary, that w.h.o. has said that, the u.s. government has said it. they have contracted with five major manufacturers. they have contracted for more than 150 million doses, that's about enough for every other person in the united states. and the goal is to get this out some time in october. that's not as early as one would
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like but they can do that, it won't be too bad. >> there are many places in the world where people can't afford or there is no means by which to vaccinate. what happens? >> that's going to be a problem. they're just tooling up production right now, and nobody is really looking after those other people. >> dr. martin blaser, thank you very much. >> thank you. as you heard, india's now dealing with the pandemic. on tonight's blogwatch, we want to share with you one comment that seemed to put the flu virus and how people are responding in perspective. ivan quadras writes from india -- as my good friend put it, 200 people get swine flu and the whole of india wants to wear surgical masks. 20 million people have aids and nobody wants to wear a condom.
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as we continue on this thursday evening, our other big theme here tonight is the global economy. two of europe's biggest economies, germany and france, reported signs of recovery. each saw growth. yes, we said growth of .3% in this year's second quarter. but those are just two countries, and despite a turnaround for them, much of europe is still mired in recession, as we hear in this report from deutsche welle. >> reporter: one reason for the positive trend in germany is an improvement in the construction industry. but consumers have already done their bit, continuing to spend money throughout the crisis. and they've been helped by berlin's economic stimulus packages. >> translator: the slowdown in production is now over. we're entering a phase of stabilization or of slight growth. in this respect, the worst is now over, but not for the labor market. unfortunately, we have to expect more job losses.>> reporter: ge
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only economy to emerge from the recession. france also surprised analysts, recording .3 of 1% growth in the second quarter. taken as a whole, the eu economy continued to shrink, according to official figures published today. major economies such as britain pulled down the european average, contracting by .8 of 1%. but lithuania is in a league of its own, posting a gdp loss of more than 12%. the tiny baltic state was hit relatively late by the economic crisis season seeking to ride out the storm. some workers have seen their wages reduced by as much as 50% and the government has also raised taxes. >> to assess how fast the world economy is rebounding and to analyze what it will mean for the united states, we are joined once again tonight by one of our regulars, roben farzad, a senior writer with "businessweek." always good to see you. >> thank you, martin. >> but especially today because we have positive news. let's start with germany.
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how significant is the second quarter growth in germany? after all, it is the largest economy in europe and what does it mean for our own economy? >> it's pleasant. we'll take whatever good news we can get but more power to them. it doesn't mean all much to the rest of the global economy. >> what contributed, do we think, to germany's positive numbers this time? >> germany's similarly espoused physical stimulus, a cash for clunkers program over there. it has a more robust exporting system. it didn't binge on subprime securities like some of the other western economies and especially the emerging european economies did. so it didn't have such a hard fall because it didn't soar as high. >> and france also had positive news. what is the explanation there? >> similarly, france was somewhat buffered from all of the subprime contagion thing. as recently as two or three years ago, france was an
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economic punchline. the labor force is not very mobile. it's harder to hire and fire people. that cuts both ways. when you try to insulate yourself amid a global contagion, the likes we have seen the past two years, you're bound to do better than the other economies. >> okay. but despite that, there are many european economies that are not seeing any real signs of hope. let's talk about great britain. their unemployment rate is up. spain is now approaching nearly 18%. how do those facts fit in with the news of today? >> well, it shows you that you're not talking about a single entity in the european zone of economies. spain, for example, was precisely one of those economies that binged on subprime, that espoused new paradigm thinking, that built condos as far as the eye can see, that opened its borders to come in and mix cement and now it's actually having to pay people to go away and it's dealing with a significant hangover. ditto, ireland. ditto some of the economies that were exposed to central and eastern europe, mainly romania, austria. so it shows you that the european nations, even the one that's share a common currency,
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don't share their common economic health. >> do you think that germany and france, the numbers today are an anomaly or part of a trend? >> i hope it's part of a trend that we finally abated the deep loss that's we saw past. >> but i also want to bring in asia. should we be focused on these numbers coming out of europe or looking more at numbers coming out of asia? >> yeah, the hope rests on asia. you're not talking about .3% economic growth in countries like china and singapore and malaysia and indonesia. it's significantly higher than that. and the countries aren't throwing significant amount of fiscal stimulus -- >> what numbers are we looking at? >> you talk about china, it's still approaching, 7%, 8% economic growth. >> today? >> yes. and there's significant spending on infrastructure, high-speed trains. trying to get the engine going on the surplus of dollars they accumulated. the question is, will these countries and the chinese ecosystem turn around and buy american goods and english goods and keep that system afloat?
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>> we have to leave it there. roben farzad, leaving us on a bright note. >> thank you, martin. thank you very much. in the former soviet republic of belarus, the workers starting to get paid by goods. how dumplings became the currency after a belorussian truck factory. eat them there or take them home. workers at an auto parts factory are being paid in cheese and milk. others are paying their people with canned goods, onions, fabrics and rugs. and one more note from europe tonight. officials in scotland say they are considering an early release on compassionate grounds for the libyan man convicted of the 1988 bombing of a pan am jetliner over lockerbie, scotland. that's because abdel baset al megrahi, who was arrested in 1991 and convicted ten years later, has terminal cancer. the bombing killed 270 people, most of them americans. the possibility of an early release for al megrahi has
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divided some relatives of those who died. >> there was no compassion shown for the 270 victims who were murdered, and so i think we have shown him more compassion than he showed his victims. >> i should be very delighted if he does go home to his family to die. and i'm very pleased to hear they are encouraging authorities to use compassionate release. >> after al megrahi's conviction, libya's leader, moammar gadhafi, renounced terrorism and libya's relations with the west started to improve. secretary of state hillary clinton was in liberia today as she neared the end of her 11-day visit to africa. the west african nation found by freed american slaves is led by the continent's first democratically elected female
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president. and today clinton had strong praise for ellen johnson-sirleaf and her accomplishments. despite a recent apology for johnson-sirleaf for giving an financial support one time to charles taylor, an infamous warlord and later liberia's president. taylor was liberia's leader at the end of 14 years of a brutal civil war. and it was the advent of a woman's movement earlier in this decade that helped to drive him from power. in tonight's signature story, we want to take a deeper look at the power of women in liberia. in a story we first brought you earlier this year. "worldfocus" special correspondent lynn sherr shows us how the movement gave women the kind of opportunities they could never have dreamed of. ♪ >> reporter: the message from monrovia, the capital of liberia, is loud and clear -- women rule, literally in the person of ellen johnson-sirleaf, the first female president
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elected in africa, and optimistically, as in this four-day conference of women from around the world, strategising on everything from stopping violence against women to funding political campaigns. the international women's colloquium took place in march, the largest event in liberia in more than 30 years, celebrating female leaders from all over africa and the market women of liberia itself. they, in in a sense, were the real stars of the show. market women not only sell the food that sustains their country, they also fueled a movement that helped end 14 years of civil wars. when the tyrannical rule of president charles taylor transformed their lush little country into a living hell, murdering their men, kidnapping their children, raping their sisters and mothers and daughters, these women, mostly uneducated, generally unschooled in the possibility of their own human rights, decided they've had enough.
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they staged marches and sit-ins for two years, and their demands finally got them a meeting with the fear of president tiller himself. >> we are tired of war. we are tired of running. we are tired of our children being raped. we are now taking a stand to secure the future of our children because we believe a society with our children who asks, mama, when was you're role during the crisis? >> reporter: the women's demands, first revealed to the world in a film "pray the devil back to hell," helped send taylor into exile. then they rallied around the campaign of elected liberia's new president. she has never forgotten how she got there. >> we celebrate the great role that women have played to move liberia to this point. >> reporter: this gathering of women is also a fulfillment of her promise that president
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johnson-sirleaf's made to the women of liberia. "they stood by me and they supported me," she has said, "and my administration will empower them." >> what can i do to enable them to move along the path where not only have they now won the peaceful liberia, but what do we give back to them to enable them to be empowered, enable them to reach their potential? and my connection with them was to say, you've done it for liberia. you've done it for me, and my commitment is to find a way to give it back to you. >> reporter: she started with her cabinet, naming women to the most more than minis finance, foreign affairs, commerce. she made a woman the nation's police chief. she also, not surprisingly, put a woman in charge of the gender ministry, which really means women's ministry.
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gender minister gaylord said women's groups mushroomed in liberia after the war to fill the vacuum that was created by the absence of government. >> for the first time in the history of this country, women are all over the place. we try to let them know that we are not competing. we just want to complement one another's efforts, and we hope that will see us as a future partner and we need to work together. >> reporter: for some men, that partnership is already flourishing. >> we support the women strongly. >> reporter: and in this country where men and boys have always had priority, president johnson-sirleaf's abolished fees for primary schools to help expand the education of girls. she vowed to end the scourge of rape and for her lawyer base of market women, she fixed up the markets where they sell their goods and earn a living.
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>> this is an example to our children. >> your daughter could be president. >> my daughterould be president. >> reporter: how many of you would like to be president? oh, the girl, yeah! would you have said that before president sirleaf was in office? >> no. >> so many of them that are saying that now. i want to follow the president's footsteps. many others say i want to be a doctor, engineer, teacher. today they know that their potential can be met through their own effort because there's no barriers to them anymore. >> reporter: which means women may not only rule liberia, but their own destiny as well. i'm lynn sherr for "worldfocus" in monrovia, liberia. >> you can find more from liberia, including more videos and an interview with the
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country's president at finally tonight, the last report in our series on the changing global environment, from our newest partner the united nations environment project una and its films project. tonight we take you to southeast asia, cambodia, where there's an unusual effort under way by buddhist monks to replant forests devastated by war and clearing by loggers. this is important to them for both religious and environmental reasons. the monks, like others, believe the trees may help counter the effects of climate change. so come with us as we get a rare glimpse into their world. >> reporter: in a quiet forest in a corner of eastern cambodia, buddhist monks pray for peace.
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forests have always played a crucial role in the imagination of buddhists worldwide. it was, after all, beneath a tree that the buddha himself achieved enlightenment. but there's something special about this forest. the forest was heavily bombed during the vietnam war, and even now, the forest is full of bomb craters and those trees left standing by the b-52s were then cleared by the loggers. but over the last 15 years, this forest has been reborn and it's largely thanks to this man. as a local monk in need of a forest to meditate in, he formed a group called sanity center with a peace army and set about replanting the forest from scratch. and as the relationship between trees and climate became better understood, they worked to an even greater urgency.
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>> reporter: this is a farmer that lived here most of his 54 years and has faced a growing struggle cultivating rice. this year the rain has come early, so he's preparing to plant. but last year the rain failed, and so did his crops.
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>> reporter: back in the forest, the monks are preparing to head back to their villages, and they'll be carrying an important e with them. >> reporter: just outside the forest, local farmers have gathered to pray for a good harvest and to make good offerings to the monks. so khan and his fellow farmers don't have much to give, but they know that like planting
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trees, every little bit counts. >> and that is a look at our world this thursday evening on "worldfocus." by the way, if you missed any of those u.n. reports about the global environment and climate change this week, you are in luck, because you can watch them again at our website, which, of course, is and, remember, there's also much more news from around the world there as well. i'm martin savidge in new york. as always, we thank you for joining us. we'll look forward to seeing you back here again tomorrow and any time on the web. until then, have a good night. -- captions by vitac --
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PBS August 14, 2009 12:00am-12:30am EDT

News/Business. Martin Savidge. (2009) (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY India 10, Us 8, France 7, Germany 6, New York 3, Brazil 3, U.s. 3, Asia 3, Charles Taylor 2, Lynn Sherr 2, Cambodia 2, Clinton 2, Martin Savidge 2, Roben Farzad 2, United States 2, Dr. Martin Blaser 2, Ellen Johnson-sirleaf 2, Taylor 2, Monrovia 2, Britain 2
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